Captain dies in accident on anchored bulker in Gulf of St. Lawrence

Sage Amazon

The captain of a Liberia-flagged bulk carrier died from injuries suffered in a fall while the ship was anchored in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, according to Canadian authorities.

Crew on the 653-foot Sage Amazon were deballasting a cargo hold before berthing at a northeastern Quebec terminal when the captain fell at 0730 on March 17. Later that day, doctors at a hospital in Chandler, Quebec, declared him dead.

“The master, a Ukrainian national of 54 years of age, fell from an access ladder attached to the coaming of cargo hold No. 3 on the main deck from an approximate height of 2 to 3 meters,” said Francois Dumont, regional senior investigator for Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB).

The captain was not identified by name and the nature of his injuries were not disclosed. Authorities planned to conduct an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Canadian law enforcement agencies do not consider the incident suspicious and police are not pursuing the case. Citing the ongoing investigation, Dumont would not say if anyone saw the captain fall. The ship is not equipped with closed-circuit cameras.

“We are currently investigating this as a transportation accident per our act and no criminal underlying factors were identified,” he said.

Sage Amazon arrived at the anchorage off Port-Daniel-Gascons, Quebec, at about 2100 on March 16. The vessel’s most recent port call was in the United Kingdom, where it offloaded petroleum coke.

Sage Amazon was in ballast in preparation for arriving at a nearby terminal for a bulk load of cement. The accident occurred during deballasting of the No. 3 cargo hold. The ship has five cargo holds.

The ship’s deck was dry and the vessel was anchored and stable when the master fell, Dumont said. Weather was overcast at the time.

Crew aboard Sage Amazon reported the accident. Two emergency technicians from the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Terry Fox reached the ship on an inflatable motorboat and went aboard at about 1100. Around the same time, a Coast Guard helicopter deployed emergency personnel onto the ship.

The captain was unresponsive when they arrived at 1120, according to a Coast Guard spokeswoman. Firefighters from Chandler, Quebec, boarded the ship at 1211, and crew lowered his body on a stretcher into a waiting inflatable. Paramedics on shore transferred his body to the hospital.

After the accident, the chief mate took command of the ship until a relief captain arrived.

Sage Amazon is a Supramax bulker built six years ago at a Chinese shipyard. A spokeswoman for its commercial manager, C Transport Maritime S.A.M. of Monaco, declined to comment. She said another company manages the vessel’s technical operations but she did not name the firm.

By Professional Mariner Staff